31 Third Branch 1 (1999)

handle is hein.journals/thirdbran31 and id is 1 raw text is: THE
THIRD
BRANCH

Newsletter
of the
Federal     ~
Courts
Vol. 31
Nutmber I
Januiary 1999 Special Issue

The 1908 Year-End Report of the Federal Judiciary

The federal Judiciary enters the
last year of the 20th century immersed
in many of the same struggles that
have defined our federal system of
government for 210 years. The ad-
ministration of justice is affected not
only by the relationships among the
Judiciary and the other two branches
of the federal government, but also
by the balance of power between the
federal and state governments. In
this, my 131h Year-End Report, I will
address several of the problems
affecting the Judiciary in 1998.
I am pleased to report on the
progress made in 1998 by the Senate
and the President in the appointment
and confirmation of judges to the
federal bench-a need that I raised in
my 1997 Report as one for which
both the Executive and Legislative
Branches bore responsibility. The
Senate confirmed 65 judicial nomi-
nees in 1998, a figure that is above
the average number of judges
nominated and confirmed in recent
years. These appointments will help
address the disparity between the
courts' workload and their resources.
I also note my gratitude to senior
federal judges who, despite their
semi-retired status, continue to help
ease backlogs in courts around the
country.

I also extend my thanks to Con-
gress for continuing to provide
adequate financial support to the
Judiciary as we work together to
maintain a balanced budget. The
Judiciary remains committed to
fiscal responsibility, and for its
part, requested the smallest percent-
age funding increase in 20 years
for fiscal year 1999, even as it faces
a growing caseload. The Third
Branch is particularly appreciative of
the appropriation for the construc-
tion of 13 new or expanded court-
house facilities for fiscal year 1999.
The new courthouses will replace
aging and obsolete facilities and are
much needed to alleviate over-
crowded conditions and reduce
security risks.
Appointments, Jurisdiction, and Salaries
Although the Judiciary is
strengthened by the progress made
on important issues in 1998, serious
problems continue to confront us.
The most pressing of those problems
are not new, but they have grown in
importance either from the neglect or
ambivalence of the other branches of
government. They are: (1) the failure
to appoint any Commissioners to the
United States Sentencing Commis-
sion-all seven Commissioner
positions are vacant; (2) the growing
caseload in the federal Judiciary

resulting from continued expansion
of federal jurisdiction; and (3) the
continuing relative decline in judicial
salaries. There are, of course, many
challenges facing the Judiciary. I
focus primarily on these three
problems, however, because they
need immediate attention. All three
are soluble.
Appointments to the United Staes
Sentencing Commission
The political impasse on the
appointments to the United States
Sentencing Commission, which has
been problematic for the past few
years, has now reached stunning
proportions. There currently are no
Commissioners at the Sentencing
Commission and no nominations are
pending. The failure to fill these
vacancies is all the more egregious
when one considers the fact that the
seven Commissioners authorized by
statute have staggered six-year
terms, and that there are additional
statutory constraints to insure a
bipartisan Commission. For ex-
ample, at least three of the Commis-
sioners must be federal judges, and
no more than four can be members
of the same political party. The fact
that no appointments have been
made to fill any one of these seven
see Report on page 2

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